According to International Fire Code that has been adopted by all municipal governments within the Front Range Fire Rescue response area: “Where a required fire-protection system is out of service, the fire department and the fire code official shall be notified immediately and, where required by the fire code official, the building shall either be evacuated or an approved fire watch shall be provided for all occupants left unprotected by the shutdown until the fire protection system has been returned to service.” Fire protection systems include fire suppression systems and fire alarm systems.
Fire Watch Requirements
A fire watch is the action of an on-site person or persons, whose sole duty is to watch for the occurrence of fire and, if a fire does occur, immediately report it to Front Range Fire Rescue (FRFR). A fire watch is required to be performed in order for a building to remain occupied.
If a fire protection system fails, is out of service, is being modified due to construction, or if there have been an excessive number of preventable activations or “nuisance alarms,” a building owner (or his/her representative) may be required by FRFR to maintain a fire watch until the system is repaired and fully operational. A nuisance alarm is defined as: any alarm caused by mechanical failure, malfunction, improper maintenance, or an alarm activation by a cause that cannot be determined (2019 NFPA 72).
Fire watch personnel may be the building/business owner or designee. A professional security company may be required by FRFR if life safety conditions warrant such action.
Failure to follow these fire watch procedures may result in a summons to court; the requirement of a professional, paid fire watch; or the premises being vacated.
FRFR will coordinate with the building or business owner to explain the requirements of a fire watch, using this document, prior to implementation of the fire watch. The owner is required to sign this Fire Watch Agreement; both the owner and FRFR will keep a copy of the signed form.
During a fire watch, the building/business owner’s responsibilities will be to:
- Establish, instruct and maintain fire watch personnel.
- Notify the alarm monitoring company.
- Notify occupants of the building.
- Contact an appropriate, licensed fire protection contractor to repair the fire protection system(s).
- Notify FRFR when the system has been repaired and is again operational.
Fire Watch Duties
Fire watch personnel are not allowed to have duties other than their assigned fire watch. Additionally, the fire watch personnel must not perform firefighting duties beyond the scope of the ordinary citizen.
Persons serving as a fire watch have the following duties:
- Determine at least one means of communication with FRFR. This typically will be a telephone. If it is a cell phone, ensure cell coverage is adequate and continuous.
- Have knowledge of the location and use of fire protection equipment, such as fire extinguishers and fire alarm manual pull stations (if in workable condition). Fire extinguishers must be available on each floor and within 75 feet of any point in the building.
- Conduct periodic patrols of the entire facility as specified (special attention shall be paid to storage areas, janitor closets, utility spaces, basements, attics, etc., and other normally unoccupied areas).
- Identify any fire, life or property hazards.
- Record each tour of the premises on the fire watch log provided by FRFR.
- If a fire is discovered, activate the fire alarm system (when possible) and notify FRFR by calling 9-1-1 with the exact address and type of emergency. Signs of fire include visible smoke, flames, burning or smoke odor, odor of natural gas, etc.
- Notify occupants of the facility of the need to evacuate. If the alarm notification devices or public address system of the fire alarm system are still functional, manually activate the alarm system to assist with the evacuation.
Frequency of Inspections
Fire watch personnel shall complete a patrol of the entire facility every 30 minutes in the following situations:
- The building or facility has people sleeping
- The facility is an Institutional occupancy as defined by the Fire Code (hospital, nursing home, jail, etc.)
- The building or facility is an occupied Assembly occupancy (restaurant, bar, theater, arena, etc.)
- The building or facility is a High-Hazard (Group H) occupancy as defined by the Fire Code
Facilities that do not meet the requirements for a 30-minute patrol frequency should have a fire watch patrol every 60 minutes. The Fire Marshal or FRFR representative is authorized to modify this frequency based on hazardous conditions in the occupancy. If a facility cannot be completely patrolled by a fire watch person in the required time frame, additional personnel shall be assigned fire watch duties to ensure the complete facility is patrolled in the required interval.
Cancellation of Fire Watch
It is the owner’s responsibility to contact FRFR when the fire protection system(s) is again operational and FRFR can cancel the fire watch. During normal business hours, contact the Life Safety Section at (970)587-4464. The Fire Code Official may provide a separate phone number for after-hours contact. The owner shall email the completed fire watch log at the end of each day to firstname.lastname@example.org.